Support: The Best Anti-Bullying Tool

by Jocelyn Markowicz, PhD, Psychologist, in San Diego, CA

Bullying and hate crime are on the increase. Gemma Chan (actress and singer from) was created in response to an increase in anti-Asian hate crime incidents. Crazy Rich Asians) asked people to “spread awareness, check in on your Asian friends because we are not okay, educate yourself and others on the long history of anti-Asian racism, and please don’t be silent.” In her powerful words, she laid out the most powerful anti-bullying tool: support.

To be a powerful supporter, it is important to be educated.

Prevention Is Education

Prevention is the best line of defense. Childhood development can be our battleground; it’s vital to prevent the development of bullies who victimize in their youth and engage in hate crimes as adults. Victims of bullying feel powerless and lack support. They are more likely to resort to suicidal behavior (Ybarra et.al., 2014). Reading is a powerful tool to help educate our youth about the biases and differences that can influence their decision to engage in bullying or hate crimes. There are many books on anti-bullying that will help to educate our youth. These books are excellent anti-bullying resources that our youth can use.

My Footprints Bao Phi; Stick and Stone Beth Ferry and Tom Lichenheld; My name is Bilal By Asma Mobin – Uddin; Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon; Inside Out & Back Again Thanhha Lei; Fred Korematsu Speaks Up Stan Yogi and Laura Atkins;It All Started with a Page By Kyo Maclear, Julie Morstad;The Myth of a Model Minority Rosalind S. Chu and Joe R. Feagin.

The anti-bullying education process includes highlighting the negative impact of bullying upon victims.

Effects That Bullying Can Have on an Individual’s Mental Health

Bullying can affect school achievement. Recent Turkish research showed that school attendance was positively associated with school success (Gokmen, 2021). Gokmen (2021), also found that school attendance was negatively related to bullying.  Poorer academic performance is associated to poorer mental health. A recent meta-analysis determined that peer victimization is associated with later suicidal ideation (van Geel, Goemans, Zwaanswijk, & Vedder, 2021). Children who are victims can become victims themselves as a result of their declining mental health. Schools have implemented programs across the country to combat bullying among children.

We must empower our communities to understand that bullying victims are powerful. For someone being bullied, it is possible to have support from family, friends, teachers, and even peers. Victims of hate crimes and bullying are asking for support, just as Gemma Chan pleads for anti-Asian violence. People often remain silent because they don’t know how to help and not because they don’t care. It is encouraging to know that active support can help make a difference. Support is a powerful tool. Action is the best support.

Steps You Can Take to Support Victims & Their Psychological Well-Being

1. Speak up

Don’t be silent. You can say something to the victim. One question can ignite positive change: “Are you okay?” Or “How can I help?” Say something to an authority figure (i.e., teacher, principal, parent, law enforcement, supervisor) who may be able to help the victim.

2. Spread awareness.

Take the actions you can. Raising awareness of bullying and hate crimes can have preventative and reactive results — helping people recognize bullying and hate, equipping them with ideas about what to do and how to help, and building a culture that doesn’t consider meanness, cruelty, hate, or intimidation as options. Make sure to share any resources you know about, such as

3. Check out.

Follow-through is key to a successful support program. To determine if additional support is required, it is important to check in with the victim of bullying. Routinely visiting victims reminds them they are not alone, and encourages them to continue fighting for their healing. You should also check in with the community systems in place to combat bullying and hate crime to monitor intervention strategies and their outcomes. Routinely monitoring the systems in place to prevent harm fosters accountability which leads to greater systemic success. Your support is power.

Support is Important

Sometimes support can seem small and insignificant. However, support allows others intervene on your behalf. It also empowers you to confront the lies that bullying and hate tell about victims. A recent study indicated that students who perceived greater adult support, along with other contextual factors, predicted increased intervention behaviors against bullying (Konishi, Hymel, Wong, & Waterhouse, 2021). In other words, bullying intervention behaviors were predicted by support from others. Support, not perfection,  is a crucial anti-bullying and hate crime tool.

Bullying can cause serious emotional damage. A therapist can be an excellent addition to a bullying victim’s support team. Start looking for a therapist today for someone you care about or for yourself. 

Refer to

Gokmen, A. (2021). School bullying and youth externalizing and internalizing behaviors: Does school belonging and school achievement have any bearing on school bullying? International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

Ybarra, M., Espelage, D. L., & Mitchell, K. J. (2014). Differentiating between bullying youth and other victims of peer-aggression: What is the importance of differential power? Journal of Adolescent Health, 55 (2), 293–300.

Konishi, Chiaki, Hymel, Shelley, Wong, Tracy K.Y. , & Waterhouse, Terry (2021). Bullying and school climate. Psychology The Schools. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.22512

Rappler.com Celebrities Call to #StopAsianHate in the Face of the Rising Wave of Violence Against Asian-Americans http://www.rappler.com-Celebrities-call-to-stop-asian-hate-following-violence-against-asian-americans (March 18, 2021).




© Copyright 2021 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Jocelyn Markowicz PhD, Psychologist in San Diego, CA, granted permission to publish

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